Category Archives: Good News

Neurotoxic Chemical to Be Banned from Farm Use

Chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide that has been shown to cause brain damage in children, including reduced IQ, delayed development, and memory loss, will be banned under a newly proposed EPA rule. Strong scientific evidence shows that adults are also poisoned by this chemical, whose use in the home has been banned since 2000. Now the EPA has finally responded to a 2007 court order to evaluate the possibility of banning chlorpyrifos altogether.

It will now be prohibited from use on agricultural fields. As a result, it must no longer show up as a residue on food, drift to populated locations, such as schools and homes, or contaminate drinking water.

The EPA will receive comments on this proposed rule until January 5, 2016. After that date, it will finalize the rule and its provisions will go into effect. You can comment on the proposed rule here.

Read more at Earthjustice here.

“The Devil,” East Africa’s Most Wanted Elephant Poacher, Arrested

Known as the “The Devil” by law enforcement who conducted a year-long manhunt for him, Boniface Matthew Mariango was arrested in Tanzania a few days ago. East Africa’s most prolific elephant poacher and illegal ivory trafficker, Mariango was responsible for thousands of elephant deaths.

Earlier last month, task force members of the National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit were also able to arrest “The Queen of Ivory,” Yang Fenglan, who was responsible for a worldwide network of illegal ivory exports. The Devil was her major supplier; he also supplied weapons and vehicles to his own network of poachers. Having these two major players in custody, along with commitments by the U.S. and China to ban ivory, should lead to major breakthroughs in international ivory trafficking.

A documentary film crew was embedded with the task force and will be releasing a film about the manhunt for the Queen of Ivory and The Devil next year.

View the Elephant League post here.

Kawela Bay on Oahu Permanently Protected

A gorgeous surf spot, Kawela Bay and Kahuku Point, on Oahu’s North Shore has been saved from development. The North Shore Community Land Trust, working with the state of Hawaii and the Trust for Public Land, were able to conserve 630 acres of stunning coastline. In addition to protecting a beautiful bay, the move will also protect important habitat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals and threatened green sea turtles.

The land trust’s director notes that they want to protect about 60,000 more acres on Oahu, of which 20,000 are for sale right now.

The article below also highlights the important work other land trusts are doing on the mainland to protect surf spots, calling out the Peninsula Open Space Trust near Mavericks and the Elkhorn Slough Foundation south of Santa Cruz in California, as well as the North Florida Land Trust on the Atlantic coast.

Read more at Surfline here.

Germany Expected to Reach 33% Renewable Energy This Year

A world leader in switching to renewable energy, Germany is expected to reach 33% this year. Relying on solar, wind, and other renewable sources to supply about a quarter of its energy last year, Germany has brought online much more wind energy this year.

Germany is the fourth-largest economy in the world, after only the U.S., China, and Japan. This means that any move it makes is of global importance.

I also posted recently about how Morocco is set to become the world’s solar superpower, with plans to eventually export power to Europe and maybe even the middle East. The world is changing!

Read the Clean Technica post here.

How Norway Saved (and is Rebuilding) Its Vast Forests

A century ago, Norway’s forests were overharvested and on the decline after centuries of logging for firewood and timber (much of it exported to other European nations). Now, the forest has three times the trees it did 100 years ago, and Norway’s annual tree growth offsets 60% of its carbon emissions (as trees are nature’s best carbon dioxide filters). How has Norway accomplished this? By smart forest planning.

The nation harvests only 50% of its annual tree growth each year. This means that the forests are increasing in size. New policies such as preventing livestock from grazing in harvested areas, which prevents regrowth, as well as an aggressive tree-planting scheme, have contributed to the success.

Challenges remain. Critics complain that Norway is not managing its forests for biodiversity, but is treating them like tree plantations instead. Only a very small percentage of Norwegian forests are protected in national parks and so forth. In addition, far northern climates like Norway’s are among the fastest-warming in the new global climate era. It remains to be seen how well Norway’s trees will adapt to a warmer climate.

I recently posted a story about how Norway is due to complete payment of $1 billion to Brazil for its incredible work in reducing deforestation of the Amazon. What a smart country.

Read more at the BBC here.

Things Are Looking Up for Orcas

Two representatives from California have introduced legislation into the U.S. House of Representatives that would eventually end orca (killer whale) captivity across the nation. Known as the ORCA Act (Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement), the law would ban breeding of captive orcas, capture of wild orcas, and import or export of orcas for public display purposes.

If you support this law, you can call, write, or email (calling is easiest, and probably most effective) your representative and ask him or her to support the ORCA Act. Here is a quick, easy zipcode lookup for your congressperson.

This comes on the heels of other good news:

SeaWorld San Diego just announced that it will be ending its captive orca shows (SeaWorld San Antonio and Orlando will continue their orca shows for now). The whales will continue to be held for display, and will likely perform in a show that is more conservation-oriented, and not based on tricks. Activists would like to see the orcas released from captivity altogether. But this is a good start, indicating that Sea World is starting to bow to the public pressure against its orca shows that has increased since the release of the film Blackfish in 2013. (Thanks to Netflix for streaming it!)

I recently posted that California Coastal Commission approved an expansion of the San Diego SeaWorld’s orca tank while at the same time, banning SeaWorld from breeding its captive orcas. If this rule stands (SeaWorld has announced plans to sue the Coastal Commission), then the 11 orcas currently in captivity in San Diego will be the last.

I also posted that endangered orcas off the coast of Washington state are in the middle of a baby boom, with six newborns and, apparently, several more pregnant mamas in the group. Of course, these new babies will need to eat once they’re weaned off their mothers’ milk, so we need to make sure that their favorite fish, salmon, is abundant. A good step would be to take down four dams that are blocking some of the best inland salmon habitat in the U.S. This not a short-term goal, but since orcas can live to be 100 years old or more, we must think ahead!

Read the Seattle Post-Intelligencer article here.

Wild Bison Return to Colorado

This is my favorite kind of story — when wildlife are allowed to return to habitats they used to live in before being hunted nearly to extinction. Last week, on National Bison Day, 10 bison were reintroduced to northern Colorado, where they haven’t roamed free for more than 150 years.

The National Wildlife Federation worked to bring brucellosis-free bison to a 1000-acre parcel of open space owned by the city of Fort Collins and Larimer County. Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that can cause female bison to miscarry. Because it is possibly transmissible to domestic cattle, ranchers have long fought the reintroduction of bison in areas where their cattle might come into contact with them. The 10 bison released in Colorado last week were bred using a new technique that should guarantee they are free of brucellosis. The eventual goal is to have a herd of hundreds of bison roaming about 10,000 acres. Bison from this large herd could go on to repopulate other areas or provide fresh bloodlines to other bison herds.

Only a few bison were left in the U.S after the herds of 30 million were reduced to just a few individuals by the late 1800s. Ten bison is just a small start, but someday large herds could roam parts of Colorado again.

View the National Wildlife Federation blog post here

Seattle Is Opening 9 Totally-Outdoor Nature Preschools

Who wants to move to Seattle? Well, I kind of do, after reading this article on the Good News Network.

I recently posted about the Cedarsong Nature School on Vashon Island, WA, which educates children entirely in the forest. No classrooms!

In collaboration with Tiny Trees Preschool, Seattle has now announced plans to open nine preschools in its city parks. The   school’s founder believes that all the necessary activities can occur in the park, just as well as in the classroom. I agree!

The kids will nap on mats in the park shelters, use the park bathrooms, and do lessons in the pavilions when it rains–which is a lot, so all the kids will be issued superior rainsuits to use for the whole year.

This is nothing new in Europe, where outdoor schools have been in operation since the 1950s. Germany currently has at least 1,000. The instruction will be similar to the Montessori method, where kids self-direct their learning by choosing among several pre-planned activities to work on. The preschool is expected to cost about $5,000 less per year than regular preschool because there is no building overhead to pay.

Read more at the Good News Network here.

Washingtonians Vote to Protect Wildlife

The citizens of Washington state just voted to enact a new law that will “prohibit the purchase, sale, and distribution of products made from a list of 10 endangered animals being exploited to the point of potential extinction, and will be enforced by strong penalties. The animals protected by I-1401 include elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, pangolins, sharks and rays.”

This is great news, as these are some of the most targeted and trafficked animals in the world. The U.S. Senate will soon be considering a bill (recently passed by the House) that will strengthen federal criminal penalties for illegal wildlife trafficking. Although we are still sad about the death of Cecil the Lion, it is certainly true that his death has shined a spotlight on the issue of international wildlife crimes.

You can view the original National Wildlife Federation Action Fund post here

Save Animals Facing Extinction (bill sponsor)’s site here.

California Dairy Farmer Provides Habitat for 15,000 Imperiled Birds

I am reposting this great article from my law school colleague’s blog, The California Crow. The blog discusses the evolving world of food and agriculture policy. One hopeful story involves incentive programs in California to help farmers delay harvest long enough for imperiled birds to fledge their young. Read on.

The California Crow

Frank Mendonsa, a dairy farmer in Tipton, California, and the President of Western United Dairymen was recognized earlier this week for his significant contributions to protecting two colonies of the California emergency-listed Tricolored Blackbird. Since April, Mendonsa’s silage fields became a temporary nesting habitat for the colonies of nearly 15,000 birds, and Mendonsa is delaying harvest to help the birds safely fledge their young.

“When the birds first appeared on my property this spring, I didn’t know what kind they were,” said Mendonsa. “Once it was pointed out to me how few of these birds are left in the world and how many were on my property, I was very moved. I could see how much they needed my help and protection to build back their populations, so I have taken it upon myself to ensure their safety on this farm.”

Conservation partners working with Mendonsa to find win-win…

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